Tyrone Willingham has been fired by the University of Washington.
According to UW president Mark Emmert, the decision to fire the coach was made shortly after Oregon State pounded the Huskies 34-13 at Husky Stadium on Oct. 18, and Willingham was notified early last week.
So with the knowledge that his UW tenure had run its course, Willingham game-planned, schemed, met with the media and tried to motivate his players to tackle the Irish.
But after one more colossal loss — a 33-7 thumping by Notre Dame on Saturday — Washington made the firing official Monday morning.
Willingham will coach through the end of the season, and the university will pay him $1 million to buy out the final year of his contract.
The news made for a strange Monday on Montlake.
Woodward, the athletic director named but a month ago, and Willingham, he of the 11-32 record in four seasons, sat side by side despite being on opposite ends of a silent disagreement. Later, players muddled through the right things to say as an emotional tug-of-war over the coaches who recruited them and an 0-7 season raged within.
Woodward, who sat to Willingham’s right at the coach’s weekly press luncheon Monday, said the search for a new coach would begin immediately. And Willingham flatly said the decision to part ways at season’s end was not his.
“It’s just not in my makeup (to quit),” he said.
I always rooted for Willingham because I felt he didn’t get a fair shake in South Bend towards the end of his tenure there. But obviously Washington had to do something – the loss to Notre Dame was embarrassing, although apparently that wasn’t the final straw because Willingham was done a week ago regardless. I’m sure he’ll wind up somewhere and I hope he succeeds.